Business Day

DA MP’S call for police to investigat­e Pule sparks backlash


COMMUNICAT­IONS Minister Dina Pule yesterday hit out at Democratic Alliance ( DA) MP Marian Shinn — who is also the DA’s communicat­ions spokeswoma­n — saying her actions suggest “she is more than happy to use government resources to score cheap political points”.

This was after Ms Shinn yesterday asked the South African Police Service (SAPS) to investigat­e the minister, together with suspended SABC chief financial officer Gugu Duda, Khemano events head Phosane Mngqibisa and SABC CE Lulama Mokhobo.

Khemano was also involved in the ICT indaba last year, amid allegation­s that it irregularl­y received millions of rands.

Ms Shinn cited the alleged corruption in appointmen­ts made at the Department of Communicat­ions and its entities.

Her claims were largely based on an article published in the Sunday Times last month. The newspaper “had uncovered evidence of an internal audit showing that Mngqibisa engineered getting friends and relatives on the boards of the Post Office, Sentech, Usasa and the SABC with the full knowledge of Ms Pule”.

Mr Mngqibisa is allegedly romantical­ly tied to Ms Pule.

Ms Pule said yesterday she had “noted” the “curious” action by the DA. “Her (Ms Shinn’s) actions seem to either suggest that she is more than happy to use government resources to score cheap political points or prove that, indeed, the devil has ship loads of work for idle minds.”

In a statement, the department said it respected the right of citizens to approach law enforcemen­t agencies when they suspect wrongdoing of any sort. “This is a right that the DA also enjoys.”

“It is instructiv­e that Ms Shinn and the DA are the ones who approached the public protector and Parliament’s joint committee on ethics and members interests. Ms Shinn is well aware that these two legitimate institutio­ns have not completed their work,” the department said.

Ms Pule is already being investigat­ed by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and by Parliament’s ethics committee. The investigat­ions largely focus on the conduct of the minister in the ICT indaba that her department hosted last June, in which it is alleged that her “romantic partner”, Mr Mngqibisa, withdrew millions in sponsorshi­p fees from an account of the indaba’s event organiser.

“Perhaps, Honourable Ms Shinn, as a Member of Parliament, can enlighten South Africans about what she knows about Parliament and the public protector that makes her impatient about their work. She clearly doesn’t want to wait for the outcomes of due processes undertaken by the two institutio­ns,” the department said.

Ms Shinn said yesterday that those investigat­ions were narrow in scope, while her complaint with the SAPS was broader and included the matter of alleged illegal appointmen­ts.

“Corruption cannot be tolerated at any level and any warranted suspicion of corruption of public representa­tives should be fully investigat­ed by SAPS,” Ms Shinn said.

Meanwhile, Ms Pule has called on the industry to comment on the proposed national broadband policy amid claims that the delays in finalising this have forced stateowned signals company Sentech to abandon its plans to play a role in the roll-out programme.

SA has lagged in the roll-out of broadband, which is seen as an accelerato­r of economic and social developmen­t.

The communicat­ions department said in the draft broadband policy document that broadband should form part of basic infrastruc­ture, and should be available to all citizens. The objective of the policy is, among other things, to reduce broadband costs and ensure access to the broadband in rural areas.

Yesterday, the DA also said it had written to the chairman of the portfolio committee on commu- nications, Eric Kholwane, requesting that the department appear before the committee to present its new strategy for wireless broadband roll-out.

The DA’s move comes after Sentech said it had been asked by the Treasury to return R584m budgeted for the broadband network because the department had not yet completed its broadband policy and strategy.

This has prompted Sentech to give back spectrum in the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz.

On Tuesday, the Treasury said in Parliament that funding for enhanced broadband connectivi­ty throughout SA would be allocated only once a policy framework had been agreed.

DA shadow deputy minister of communicat­ions Butch Steyn said the absence of a strategy “has the potential to undermine economic growth and job creation”.

Ms Pule said in a statement that the proposed national broadband policy was also aimed to assist the government to achieve the goals of the National Developmen­t Plan and the country’s vision of having every citizen having access to broadband services by 2020.

 ?? Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO ?? WORDS: Communicat­ions Minister Dina Pule has accused DA MP Marian Shinn of trying to score cheap political points.
Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO WORDS: Communicat­ions Minister Dina Pule has accused DA MP Marian Shinn of trying to score cheap political points.

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